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A gust of wind blowing across Howe Sound envelopes a BC Ferry outside Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver in a November 2006 file photo.ANDY CLARK

A wind storm that hit southwest B.C. on Wednesday left tens of thousands without power on Vancouver Island, caused several ferry cancellations, and disappointed a number of Sarah McLachlan fans.

Between 40,000 and 50,000 customers on Vancouver Island and 20,000 customers in the Lower Mainland lost power during BC Hydro's peak outages on Wednesday.

BC Ferries also struggled with the high winds and cancelled 128 ferries on 12 different routes, including most morning sailings between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. Ferry service resumed by the afternoon as winds over the Georgia Strait abated, according to spokesperson Deborah Marshall.

Sarah McLachlan's Wednesday night concert in Kelowna was postponed because of ferry cancellations that left the performer stranded on Vancouver Island. Those affected are asked to hold onto their tickets until the show is rescheduled.

Due to concerns about power outages and snowy road conditions, schools in Comox Valley were shut down for the day. Grouse Mountain, closed in the morning because of the wind, reopened at 3 p.m.

Translink was bracing for the storm early Wednesday morning, but spokesman Drew Snider said Vancouver experienced only minor traffic trouble, with a few power outages knocking out traffic lights.

Vancouver Island's strongest gust, 160 kilometres an hour, was recorded at Solander lighthouse in the northwest at 8 a.m., according to Environment Canada meteorologist Dave Wray. Wind speeds in Tofino peaked in the morning at 93 km/h, with the Lower Mainland seeing its strongest blast in Abbotsford at 94 km/h, he said.

Environment Canada's initial wind alerts on Tuesday predicted "potentially damaging" winds throughout the southwest coast, with speeds of up to 100 km/h and peak gusts of up to 140 km/h. The weather agency had called off its extreme wind warnings for the southwest coast and most of Vancouver Island by Wednesday afternoon.







The numbers



Peak wind speed, in kilometers per hour, recorded on Vancouver Island (source: Environment Canada).

Peak wind speed, in kilometers per hour, recorded in the Lower Mainland (source: Environment Canada).

Peak number of power outages on Vancouver Island (source: BC Hydro).

Peak number of power outages in the Lower Mainland (source: BC Hydro).

Total ferry cancellations (source: BC Ferries).

Sarah MacLachlan shows postponed.

Robyn Smith